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Thread: Hard Drive Dying - Best Way to recover a few of the files?

  1. #1
    Cabledude Avatar Fan purecomedy's Avatar
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    Hard Drive Dying - Best Way to recover a few of the files?

    I've got a 1 Tb Samsung drive in my PC suddenly on its last legs (luckily it is not the drive from which Windows 7 boots). Basically my computer boots up and about 80% of the time either freezes or results in BSOD. The other 20% of the time I've got about enough time to see open windows explorer and see the 1st level of folders on the drive, but no chance to copy a few files. The hard drive is not making any strange sounds but is like 5 years old.

    I last backed up to a USB drive earlier in 2014 but would be missing about 6 months worth of my pictures, that's what I'm trying to copy off of this drive.

    I'm looking for some suggestions for my best shot at getting files off of this drive. I'm hoping that there's maybe an OS I can boot into that will be more patient with this flakey drive. Ideally I would think something that boots up super fast would be best. I don't care if it takes forever to find and copy the files, main thing is it just needs to not freeze/crash the computer before I can do anything. I tried booting off of a Knoppix 7 DVD and had the same result with the OS ultimately freezing (the bad hard drive was never even visible under Knoppix, possibly due to a longer boot time being a DVD).

    I have the Hard Drive in the freezer overnight, will find out tonight how that works out.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    R.I.P. Nov 2015 RaisinCain's Avatar
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    Ahhhh, the old freezer trick! Do you have access to a IDE/SATA to USB adapter? If so, and the freezer trick works, I would go that route. If not, try to hook it back up normally and see if you can pull the data from it. Good luck!

  3. #3
    Cabledude Avatar Fan purecomedy's Avatar
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    I've only got IDE to USB, would have to buy a SATA to USB adapter. I guess if I find one for cheap I might give it a try, afterall I'll be heading to the store to buy a new hard drive. The one that failed was dated Feb 2009, when I looked at the other one in there it was dated Aug 2008! Thanks for the suggestion.

  4. #4
    Administrator Philip's Avatar
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    Maybe if you set your computer not to use the drive for pagefile, temporary internet files, no recycle bin, etc. would prevent freezes by not accessing the drive. If you can boot without your computer freezing, you can try copying directories from command prompt instead of using Windows Explorer ?
    Does your computer stay on without freezes if you disconnect the drive ? (just to confirm that is the culprit)
    You can try a LiveCD version of any popular Linux distro (Ubuntu, Fedora, etc.) if you really want to give it a go with another OS. Booting Linux command-line mode (rinlevel 3) with some small distribution would be fast..

  5. #5
    Cabledude Avatar Fan purecomedy's Avatar
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    Agreed, I felt like a few things pointing to the drive like recycle bin and stuff might be "pushing" the drive too hard before I could grab a few files.

    No luck from a command prompt, tried that already.

    My computer does seem to be working fine since I removed the drive.

    I bought a SATA drive to USB device, will give it a try with my frozen turkey (or I mean frozen hard drive) tomorrow. Depending how that goes might have to look into command line linux in addition. We will see.

    Heh I also bought a pair of new 3 TB drives, will be running RAID mirror again, saved my bacon last time don't know why I didn't just run that set up again.

  6. #6
    Administrator Philip's Avatar
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    The frozen drive idea only yields improvement in limited circumstances (where the drive's internal thermal protection trips, or such heat-related issue)... Let us know what works.

  7. #7
    Moderator YeOldeStonecat's Avatar
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    Hard to tell what the failure is on the drive.....the freezer trick has worked for me in the past, only when it's a mechanical problem with the drive (shot bearings that heat up and seize for example). If it's corruption on the platters...won't help that. Work quickly when you try it, and yes condensation will cover the drive and get it wet.

    Best free product out there to recover data from failing hard drives is "DDRescue"....you can Google it, there are some guides on how to incorporate that into rescue CDs and use the product. It's pretty good at grabbing data from failing HDDs. Here's a quick link on it...
    http://www.technibble.com/guide-usin...-recover-data/
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  8. #8
    Cabledude Avatar Fan purecomedy's Avatar
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    Ok, some good news to report. I used the External Hard Drive to USB enclosure and because Windows 7 instantly found the drive it gave me a good 60 seconds to grab some a bunch of picture files that I really wanted.

    I would say that freezing did not appear to increase the time to failure is my guess.

    Since the drive is wet I'm going to let it dry overnight and I'll try again tomorrow at room temp to see how I do copying some more files. From there I'll decide if I need to try the instructions on YeOldeStonecat's link, must admit I'd have to learn a little about command line Linux.

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